Illinois Institute of Technology, 2012 - $18,000

Minimizing energy waste in commercial and residential buildings in the US could have a significant impact on the environment, as the US currently consumes 25% of the world’s energy. It is estimated that 30 to 50% of energy consumption related to heating and cooling in many otherwise well-insulated buildings is due to air leakage through the building enclosures—the “drafty building problem.” But these air leakage sites are often hard to locate because the airflows are small compared to the sizes of the rooms and very hard to detect.

This E-Team is developing a new method of detecting air leakage spots in buildings using a compact acoustic phased array. Essentially, the team uses an array of compact microphones to measure minute pressure fluctuations associated with airflow. The team uses two algorithms to map acoustic sources, resulting in specific explanations: “Leak 2 occurs at the slot opening on top of the door provided for the swivel mechanism.” Based on initial results, the team has found mentors from industry, including the US Department of Energy and the Council for Tall buildings.